The gold dilemma of “houlang” in station B: power generation for love, no food, no dignity for love

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Picture / visual China
Zhang Ziqing, Liu Yiqin
Editor Xie Lirong
“Wu Tuanzi”, who graduated from Fudan University, was shocked by her best friend’s income. Her best friend is a B station full-time fashion blogger, with a year’s income in Chongqing to buy two 70 square meters of houses.
By Christmas last year, Wu Tuanzi decided to give up his job of content marketing in the Internet company and become a full-time up host of station B. Half a year later, she has accumulated nearly 90000 fans and received business promotion invitation in succession. Her income is stable, but she has not reached the level of “shock” of her best friend. She needs to find a different “difference” as soon as possible, so that everyone can remember her.
Video platform B (bilibilibili) has been established for 11 years, providing a new dream making platform for content creators. In station B, they are called “up masters”, and in a wider range of people, they are collectively referred to as “Internet celebrities”. Tiktok Kwai, B, and micro-blog, jitter, fast hands, little red book and other platforms have created a “net red economy”, which is good-looking, can play games, humorous, and even simply share daily life. On these platforms, love and concern can be enjoyed, and wealth will follow.
More and more people are flocking into the dream of “money everywhere”. In 2018, the number of monthly active up users in station B was about 570000. Two years later, the number has tripled to 1.9 million. Young people are starting to see video bloggers or online celebrities as their ideal career, according to morning consult, a research firm. Of the 13-38-year-old group surveyed, 54% want to become online celebrities, and 86% are willing to post advertisements on their own accounts.
The problem of career life cycle has been raised frequently. Beauty industry is the birthplace of the first batch of online celebrities. Most beauty bloggers only have a cycle of 1-2 years, and it is rare to be able to persist for 3-4 years. With the influx of new players, they are facing the fate of being eliminated.
Station B has 200 million registered users, and more than 50 million people open station B every day, and the number is still growing. Traffic brings commercial benefits, and advertisers also turn their eyes to this “fertile land of youth”. “It’s hard to find a new brand, which has not been promoted in B station.” A clothing brand market leader told “finance and economics” reporter.
The price of up owners in station B is also rising. At present, the most expensive price for implant promotion is 93 million pieces, which even exceeds the promotion cost of some stars.
MCN Organization (net red brokerage company) also saw the business opportunity of B station. It has become a mature cooperation mode to provide resources and services for up owners in different life cycles and accelerate the realization of commercial realization.
Many b-station up owners interviewed by “finance and economics” reporters mentioned that the initial release of the video was to share their own life and inspiration. But soon, they need to find a balance between interest, traffic and cash flow, and find out their position among station B, audience, advertisers and MCN agencies as soon as possible. Otherwise, they may face the fate of being “optimized” by data.
The flow of station B is still metaphysics
In May this year, a new video was released by the up Master of station B, “the little brother of wild food”, which played more than 4 million, five times the usual amount, and brought him more than 40000 new attention.
In this video, he restores the process of making instant noodles, spending nearly a week buying materials, doing preliminary testing and preparation. For a less than one minute shot of drying vegetables in the video, he used a hair dryer to blow the vegetables for five hours.
For the wild food brother himself, this is a long lost popular video. Since he won the “top 100” of station B in 2018, he has not been popular in station B. the number of videos played has been around 700000, and the number of fans has not exceeded 2 million. Station B selects the top 100 up masters of the year through three dimensions of creativity, influence and word-of-mouth, which is an important standard for up owners to judge whether they are big or not.
In 2019, the little brother of the wild food did not receive the invitation of the top 100 up masters in station B. the team members ridiculed him as “cool”. After experiencing the peak, the return to mediocrity is the home of most up owners.
The little brother of the wild food started to upload videos in station B in 2016. In order to shoot videos, he almost traveled all over China, including valleys, snow fields, farmyards and islands. Once, he went to Shengsi island in Zhoushan to shoot a video. Because the rain boat could not open, he stayed on the island and could not find a place to sleep.
The style of the little brother is that he seldom talks in the video, and occasionally makes a sound. In the barrage, someone will immediately comment that “today’s words are a little too much”. This unique style also brought him a new nickname “dumb brother”. In the camera, “dumb little brother” is a human device. Once you open your mouth, it will be destroyed. He uses body language and editing techniques to cooperate with the parts that need language expression. “It’s like a movie. People who can understand it will smile.”
The bottleneck appeared in the second half of 2018. At that time, he obviously felt that it was more difficult to make blockbusters. There were more contents in the living area than before, and the taste of the audience was also changing. “There’s been a lot of short and fast food.” Wild food brother told “finance and economics” reporter.
Up main difficult to pop up behind the content of the B station continues to intensify competition. On March 28, 2018, station B went to the United States for listing. Investors at the time didn’t seem to understand the value of this niche video platform. The share price was $9.8, which broke on the first day of listing, with an intraday drop of 15.7%. At that time, game revenue accounted for more than 80% of the total revenue of station B, which was still a game company.
But station B never stops enriching the ecology of content. In April 2018, the content of non quadratic meta video such as life, film and television on station B has accounted for more than 50% of the total content. Station B began to get rid of the “quadratic” content attribute, and the up owners with distinct personality became the main force of content production in station B. the good community atmosphere helped the up owners quickly gather a group of high viscosity fans.

In a recent video, the little brother did not usher in his expected pop. He tried “Inception” shooting techniques, hoping to bring some fresh feeling to fans. In the end, the number of videos played was 490000, only one tenth of that of instant noodle videos, even below the daily average.
“It took a lot of thought, and the reviews and the barrage were also very well received, but the amount of play was not good.” He can only blame luck.
Up owners don’t understand why they are no longer sensitive to “good content”. Behind the “traffic metaphysics” is the data logic jointly constructed by platform, MCN and audience.
How to realize the data?
When he just sent out his first video, he would unlock his mobile phone every few minutes and open the creator center of station B to see how much more playback his video had increased and how the barrage was. This habit has continued until now.
In station B, users’ concerns and preferences are quantified as data, which are displayed on the main up home page like price tags. Besides “buyers” like advertisers, there are also “investors” like MCN.
MCN (multi channel network) is a kind of commercial operation organization with the rise of Internet red economy in recent years. The upstream of MCN connects with the content creators such as the up master, and the downstream connects with the commercial resources, providing support for the contracted online celebrities or up owners in the aspects of content creation, traffic promotion and commercialization.
The story of the other up advocate “eight eyebrow fungus” seems interesting. In the past year, many MCN organizations have invited him to sign a contract, the number of which is so large that he is troubled. The number of people he pays attention to in station B is 190000, which is about 50 times different from that of the up owner with the largest number of fans. This kind of content is good. The up owners whose fans are still on the rise are more popular with MCN institutions. The signing cost is low, but it is hopeful to be promoted.
Yuanqi eight eyebrow fungus said that when he had only a few thousand attention, some advertisers came to him one after another, hoping that he would do implant promotion in the video, but he did not accept it. “In the early stage, I still hope to establish contact with the audience with the content.”
The most talked topic between MCN and him is realization. The colorful PPT is about one thing, how to help him connect with commercial resources. But he’s more concerned about how MCN can help him make video better.
The differences between up owners and MCN institutions are not new. Many up owners even use this as video material. Most of the viewers will feel sorry for the up owners and feel that they are being oppressed by capital.
“The difference is due to poor information.” Lu Hao, CEO of fastmei MCN, told Caijing. Up owners pay more attention to the identity of their content creators, but “you should also do things according to the logic of advertising and brand promotion. This is a career, not a ticket game.”
Taking the up owner as a profession means that the up owner needs to have long-term content output ability and commercial value. Lu Hao believes that “the biggest value of MCN is to make the content of up main be liked by the audience continuously”, and the most intuitive expression of audience’s liking is data.
Data is accelerating the definition of every industry, even the human centric content industry. Every click, viewing time, coin and like of users feed the recommendation algorithm, which determines which users’ home pages hundreds of millions of videos will be delivered. The algorithm of the platform is constantly evolving, and can not adapt to the content of this evolution, will appear less and less in people’s vision.
“Data is the basic capability of MCN.” Lu Hao said. From the first day of the up master joining MCN, it will be classified into different training systems. From understanding the rules of the platform, to interacting with the audience, to contacting business, and then to launching and exposing, MCN will provide different services at each stage of the up main life cycle, and help them find topics and do content more accurately with data.
This has become an industrial system – MCN is responsible for standardizing every service link. Up operators continuously adjust and optimize various data on the pipeline until they can start to output value for the audience, and then they can output value efficiently.
In the eyes of brand owners, data can be directly converted into money. A brand business advertising on station B told Caijing: “if you have been in contact with station B for a long time, you can predict the advertising price of up owners. Generally, the price of a volume of attention is more than 1 Mao, and the price may be slightly higher for the up owners with high average playback volume and stickiness. ”
The “visible hand” is also at work. A senior user of station B told Caijing that there were many contents on their home page that they had never paid attention to. They mainly created and promoted content and B station’s self-made or purchased copyright film and television variety shows. According to the master of up, the promotion fee of station B has reached 60000 yuan. Capital is also increasing the weight of content exposure, determining which content is more easily seen by users.
Since 2019, station B has successively purchased the copyright of movies and animation works such as Harry Potter, the Lord of the rings, wandering earth, Detective Conan, etc. At the end of August this year, station B has invested 513 million Hong Kong dollars in Huanxi media, and will cooperate on the broadcasting of film and TV series and the derivative development of film and television IP. It is believed that this is another attempt of B station to break the circle and supplement pugc content layout.
In the increasingly complex content ecology and algorithm recommendation mechanism, good content is no longer the only weight to grab the attention of the audience. For many of them who are full-time, the loss of attention is not directly related to their income. In order to survive, the up master needs to speed up and fight against “forgetting”.
Is there only one way to go?
The little brother of wild food often feels that he is “out of power”. At this time, he can only force himself to send video. “If I want to survive and live, I need to keep updating if I want to develop in the long run.” on the other hand, he still hopes that he can guarantee a certain video quality and “I don’t want to live up to the expectations of fans”.

He still keeps updating at least once a week, which is the best balance he can achieve in terms of content and efficiency. With my own studio, publishing content on site B is no longer just about personal interests. Facing the pressure of life, the operation of the company, and the attention of fans, this has long become a “unstoppable” career.
He didn’t dare to stop, and he couldn’t.
“Qiafan” is an unavoidable topic in station B. the popularity of this dialect word has a tangled meaning. The up owners have to plant and promote in the content in order to make a living.
On the American Video Platform youtube, video bloggers can freely choose whether to add patch ads to their videos. According to the completion rate of ads and other data indicators, they can get the corresponding revenue share, with about $1 revenue per thousand playback.
In 2018, station B also launched the up master incentive plan. Unlike youtube, station B will directly provide incentive income for up owners who meet the data requirements, and the corresponding revenue can be about 1-4 yuan per thousand playback.
There is up to tell “finance and economics” reporter that the promotion cost is much higher than the income directly obtained from station B.
The revenue sources of most up owners are composed of four parts, including official incentive plan of station B, charging plan, advertising revenue and live broadcast income. Among them, advertising revenue is the most important part of up main revenue and the most controversial part at present.
Up, a full-time beauty blogger, has more than 1.7 million fans on Weibo. As a full-time blogger, advertising is her most important source of income, and Weibo fans are used to it.
Once, at the request of her fans, she typed out the product name in the video of station B. later, some people said that she was “just rotten money” in the bullet screen. Xiong Zhizhi was very puzzled. She didn’t receive any promotion in this video. “Besides, the products of sea blue puzzle can’t be called” just rotten money “. She felt the resistance of audience of station B to qiaofan.
“Just rotten money” and “dark wide” are two kinds of food forms that the audience in station B generally dislike. The former refers to that the up owner still recommends the product to fans even though the product quality is not up to standard. The latter means that the up owner deliberately does not mark promotion information in the video.
It’s not just fans who are against the word “qiafan”. Up owners also want to seek a “decent” between the content and the realization.
Wu Tuanzi is very disgusted with the way of “taking care of the left and the right to talk about others”. When placing advertisements, she will try her best to separate the original contents in the advertisements and videos and put the advertisements at the end of the videos. In this way, she can get a better completion rate and feel “pure”. She stressed to “finance and economics” reporter many times, hoping that station B can provide more cashing channels, rather than just “cramming advertising” into the video.
There are also some viewers who don’t resent up’s main Qia fan. A senior user of station B said, “a normal, formal and proper meal, especially the one with video content, can even have a good time.”
It is widely speculated that brand associations will pay higher prices for “dark broad”. The reporter of Finance and economics learned from up that there is no obvious price difference between “Mingguang” and “dark wide”. Up owners don’t mark promotion information in the video, sometimes because of traffic and staffing considerations. They want to convince fans that they are not trying to make money, but are really recommending good products for fans.
Community first?
A number of up owners told Caijing that the audience on station B is very special. They need to spend more energy on making a video than bloggers on other platforms. The barrage, message and private message sent by the audience have also given birth to many up owners and fans who only know how to “block”.
The biggest difference between station B and other platforms is the emotional connection established between up owners and fans. In today’s B station, data become an indicator to measure emotion. In order to make a living, up owners can only find ways to realize this emotional connection.
The tangle of up owners is also the tangle of station B. Since 2015, the annual revenue growth rate of station B has been more than 70%, but it has not been profitable. In the second quarter of this year, the revenue of station B was 2.618 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 70.2%, and a loss of 570 million yuan, with a year-on-year increase of 81.2%. Game revenue has always been the largest revenue of station B. compared with 2018, the proportion of game revenue has decreased by nearly 20%. Station B tries to achieve a more diversified revenue structure in advertising, e-commerce and live broadcasting.
In July 2020, station B launched the “HuaHuo” advertiser single platform to help match advertisers and up owners to trade. Station B will charge brand customers 5% information service fee, but will not charge the up master. “From the perspective of the media, the quotation is not directly proportional to the effect, and the current transformation effect of station B is not easy to measure.” An advertising agent told Caijing.
Unlike short video tiktok platforms such as jitter, which directly link the platform, the advertising conversion rate of most B stations can only track the advertising effect by comparing sales volume, checking the rebate link or the secret number. There are also brand tiktok, although the B station can not calculate ROI (ROI), but the amount of attention is smaller than that of Xiaohong book and jitter. “We have budgets in hand, B station is so good now that it must be voted.”
B station commercialization is based on the growth of user scale. From the minority to the public, station B has been trying to “break the circle”. This year, station B has achieved good results in the attempt to break the circle of content. According to the data released by station B, the total exposure of the trilogy “houlang”, “entering the sea” and “happy encounter” has reached 5.37 billion times in the whole network, and the brand awareness of station B among 14-35-year-old netizens has also increased to 60%.
With the content breaking, there is also the breaking of user’s circle.
According to the financial report of station B in the second quarter of this year, the content in the living area has become the highest broadcast content of station B, with an average of 172 million active users per month. In the teleconference after the release of the financial report, Chen Rui, chairman of station B, said in the conference call: “station B is content that attracts users and communities retain users, so the engine of user growth of station B is content out of the circle.”

There are posters of the company’s values on the wall of the conference room in station B. the first one is “community first”. With the growth of users, maintaining community tonality and user experience has become a problem that station B must face.
Vivi has been using station B for more than five years, and he feels that the atmosphere of station B is changing. Once, an audience has been urging the up master to turn on the camera, but he has not even seen the most classic video of the up master. Vivi knows that the video of game strategy needs a lot of time and energy to record and edit, but he has been brushing some irrelevant content in the barrage. He feels sorry for the up owner.
Site B has been looking for content breaking and user growth. How to maintain the retention of old users and let new and old users coexist harmoniously on site B is a problem that station B, as an initial cultural community, needs to consider.
According to the financial report of station B, the growth rate of active users in the second quarter of this year is slowing down. The number of paying users has decreased by 500000 compared with that in the first quarter, and the average monthly use time of users has also declined slightly compared with that in the first quarter. Affected by the epidemic situation, the data of station B increased significantly in the first quarter of this year. How to retain these users and balance the richness and commercial value of content are the problems that station B must face.
Vivi can still recall the day when he went to BML (station B offline activities). Some of his favorite games, up, performed a show called “real fans”. He remembers the up owner “China boy” standing in the middle of the stage with his hands raised, and all the spotlights were on.
At that time, he thought, “it’s good that everyone will have a moment of light.”.
Zhang Ziqing is an intern of Caijing, and Liu Yiqin is a reporter of Caijing